West Hempstead Weekly Update

October 17, 2022

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Board of Education Recognition

Thank you to our Board of Education for supporting the students, staff, and families of the West Hempstead UFSD. Your service and the countless hours you dedicate do not go unnoticed. #schoolboardrecognitionweek

  • Karen Brohm, President
  • Joseph Magaraci, Vice President
  • Burt Blass, Trustee
  • Byars Cole, Trustee
  • Kurt Rockensies, Trustee
  • Andrea Shinsato, Trustee
  • Vincent Trocchia, Trustee

Listening with Understanding and Empathy and the Habits of Mind

Did you know that we spend more than half of our lives listening? Have you ever told a friend or family member that you were listening, but in reality, you were not? A "good" listener that can empathize could be considered one of the highest forms of intelligence. A "good" listener can restate ideas, is aware of body language, and accurately express another person's ideas, thoughts, and emotions are all signs of "good" or active listening. Listening is not a passive sport!

When you are listening with understanding and empathy, you focus only on the other person. You are keeping in check your own judgments, prejudices, and opinions. It means you are listening intently to the other person to fully understand what they are saying.

As we learned in science, our ears hear at the speed of sound, and our eyes see at the speed of light. This means if we actively listen, we are slowing ourselves down to hear more fully. This is not the easiest of the sixteen dispositions, but when we master it, we make the world around us a better place.

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image attribution: whatboots.com/au

Chestnut Street

Instructional time, the time students receive instruction from a teacher pushes organization and time management skills to the top of the list for educators. However, lost instructional time can add up and, over a year, result in lost lessons.

Chestnut Street was highly organized and humming along when I visited this week. Obviously, clear routines and expectations have been established as students and staff moved seamlessly from activity to activity.

Besides materials being prepped and ready to go, staff will signal an upcoming transition in various manners. For example, the teacher can clap, and students can respond in kind.

Cornwell Ave.

Learning is messy, and it comes in many forms. As you can see from the pictures below, students at Cornwell Avenue were engaged in learning opportunities in small group, pairs, and whole group. One grouping is not "better" than another, but rather they are appropriate for the task. When our staff is developing lessons, they look first at the lesson's outcome and then work backward in designing the most appropriate series of events to ensure the outcome is reached. Part of that planning process is choosing the instructional groupings. Observing a class for a full lesson may allow you to see whole group, small group, and individual work in that one lesson.

As the late Seymour Sarason said, "Learning is a process that occurs in an interpersonal context and is dynamically comprised of factors whose strength is never zero. Those factors have labels such as motivation, attitude, cognition, affect, self-regard."

George Washington

Developing the academic skills necessary to succeed in school and life was on full display at George Washington. While there, I witnessed students teaching each other fractions (and they were not yet "formally" introduced to them!). Students were engaged in self-reflection or metacognition. Thinking about your thinking is important as it is the process used to plan, monitor, and assess one's understanding and performance. Another skill was learning about verbs and adverbs. The skill was taught, and students were instructed to find adverbs in the independent reading books.

These lessons were meaningful, standards-based, and engaging.

West Hempstead Secondary School

Preparing for an event - whether it be a sport, a play, or a concert requires concentration, effort, a loosening of the muscles, etc. Learning in our classrooms is similar. I was able to observe several lessons that were at their beginning stages. A quality warm-up enables students to shift into the thinking, reasoning and ready to produce mental sweat.

Let's compare an athletic warm-up to a lesson warm-up.

An athletic warm-up helps to increase body and muscle temperature. A lesson warm-up helps to produce the mental sweat needed to achieve the day's learning target.

An athletic warm-up will reduce your risk of injury. A lesson warm-up will help reduce a student's chance of falling behind.

An athletic warm-up can help you to prepare mentally. A lesson warm-up will do the same.

An athletic warm-up will increase your flexibility, which will help with other exercises. A lesson warm-up can support flexible thinking (a Habit of Mind!), which can help with future learning.

An athletic warm-up will help you be ready to tackle the heavy-duty machines at the gym. A lesson warm-up will help you "tackle" the learning that lies ahead.

An important point an educator needs to remember is to include students in the process. Student agency will lead to greater gains in their learning than when they mindlessly complete a rote task.


I am reading, Reading for Our Lives by Maya Payne Smart, and over the next several newsletters, I will share some of her ideas from her writing.

Below are some milestones to be aware of for 4- and 5-year-olds.


  • Oral Language and Phonemic Awareness
  • Uses thousands of words and carries on conversations
  • Asks wh-questions: why, where, what, when, who
  • Responds to wh-questions
  • Refers to quantities
  • Uses conjunctions, like when, so, if, because
  • Recognizes sounds that match and words that begin or end
  • with the same sounds
  • Recognizes and produces rhyming words
  • Distinguishes, blends, and segments separate syllables in
  • spoken words
  • Recognizes single sounds and combinations of sounds

Book Behavior, Print Awareness, Writing, and Letter Recognition

  • Writes their name
  • Identifies their name in print
  • Names some upper- and lowercase letters
  • Understands cause and effect
  • Follows story sequences
  • Represents themself in drawings
  • Forms letters
  • Detects, manipulates, and analyzes speech sounds
  • Recognizes the difference between letters and other symbols
  • Recognizes some letters and their sounds in words,
  • including their name
  • Uses writing to represent thoughts and spells phonetically

Build some print awareness by talking to your child about how books work, how print conveys meaning, and what words are. These are vital lessons, because before a child can read print, they must notice it. Sprinkle in a few comments (max) before or during reading that direct your child's attention to how books are organized and how print mirrors spoken language. Use your finger to point to letters and words, which helps them connect the print on the page with the speech they hear and understand.

These are the words. I need to read them from this side to this side. (Trace finger from left to right along the text.)

Where should we start reading? Here? (Point to the first word on the page.) Or here? (Point to the last word on the page.)

I know this is the top of the page. Show me where the bottom of the page is.

-Adapted from, Reading for Our Lives by Maya Payne Smart

UPK Interest Survey Goes Live November 1

If you are interested or know of people, please be aware that the 2023-2024 UPK Interest Survey will go live on November 1. We will be sharing a link to access the survey.

Home-School Literacy Connections

Every family wants the best for their children. How can we better support our students and your children in the area of literacy?

  • Provide multiple opportunities - oral storytelling, written communication, and even cooking (the writing, writing, and sharing of recipes) are opportunities to engage in literacy activities.
  • Read stories together on MyON (https://www.myon.com/login/index.html). Ask your teacher or principal for more information.
  • Book clubs with the school and larger community.

Stay up to date and show some #RamPride on your phone

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Have you joined SEPTA, PTA, and PTSA?

Everyone involved is a volunteer focused on meeting student needs. The difference between a great school and a wonderful school community is the strong relationships between teachers, administrators, staff, and parents.

Why join?

  • You can have your voice and perspective heard.

  • You can fundraise to support programs and initiatives.

  • You can learn about the school community, and they can learn about you.

  • You can be “reflective.” Your children can submit their work to The National PTA’s Reflections program. This 50-year-old program provides opportunities for recognition and access to the arts. Students submit artworks in several categories based on the year’s theme.

Join today and follow on social media!

PTA Join: https://whepta.memberhub.com/store Twitter and Instagram @WHEPTA

SEPTA Join: https://1966.memberhub.com/store Twitter @WHSEPTARocks Instagram @WHSEPTA

PTSA Join: https://whptsa-10-285.memberhub.com/store Twitter and Instagram @WHPTSA

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Upcoming Events

10/24 7:30 PM PTSA - VCR SS

10/24-10/28 Red Ribbon Week

10/25 PSAT (Grade 11)

10/25 CA Fall Festival Rain Date

10/27 CS Fall Festival

10/28 7ht/8th Grade Dance

10/28 CS Fall Festival Rain Date

10/31 9:30 AM CS Parade

10/31 1:45 PM GW Parade

10/31 2:15 PM CA Parade

11/1 UPK Survey Opens

11/4 December ACT Registration Deadline

11/4 Emergency Management Dismissal and Safety Drill

11/4 Picture Make-up day Grades 7 & 8

11/5 December SAT Registration Deadline

11/5 SAT Exam